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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


JANUARY 31, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD


 STATE FIRE INVESTIGATOR CHARGED WITH ENTICING A MINOR,

TRANSFERRING OBSCENE MATERIAL

OVER THE INTERNET


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Warrensburg, Mo., man was charged in federal court today with using the Internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity and with transferring obscene images to a minor over the Internet.


            Lee E. Johnson, 48, of Warrensburg, was charged in a two-count federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City. Johnson is a fire investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Missouri Department of Public Safety.


            According to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaint, Johnson engaged in an online chat with an undercover law enforcement officer, who identified himself as a 13-year-old girl, on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2008. Johnson, believing that the images were being transferred to a 13-year-old girl, masturbated in front of his Web camera during that chat and again on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008.


            Johnson was arrested by Independence police officers in front of his residence on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. Johnson had an initial court appearance today and remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4.


            Wood cautioned that the charges contained in this complaint are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department.


Project Safe Childhood

            This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.




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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html